4:22 pm

Prenatal barre at Barre Body Studio

BlairMariePhotographyforOilGrain-BarreBody07 Barre Body Studio Instructor - Mackenzie Photo: Blaire Marie Photography

You’re pregnant - Congratulations!!!  Barre is a great way to stay in shape during pregnancy as well as the perfect exercise to prepare for a successful delivery and postpartum recovery.

Common questions that we receive at Barre Body Studio are - where do I start and how do I modify to keep both baby and me safe yet strong?  Read on for a few tips from our resident barre star instructors and then join us at an upcoming prenatal workshop to learn more about modifications that you can apply in every Barre Body Studio class.

Many changes take place during pregnancy. The lumbar curve tends to become more exaggerated, the abs become more stretched and offer less support for the spine, and the shoulders and upper back often carry pain due to increases in chest size.  Increases in body weight will also have an effect on joints such as hips and knees during weight barring exercises and breathing can become shallower as there is less room for expansion of the diaphragm leading to quicker fatigue.  Even though you are feeling slightly (or considerably) uncomfortable you are smart enough to know that movement will help you stay calm, release tension and keep you feeling refreshed.

Here are the three reasons we are pulsing our way through prenatal.

Staying Strong - It is important to avoid most high-impact and high-intensity workouts while pregnant however maintaining your strength is one of the most important things to think about during the next nine months. Maintaining or building strength in your glute muscles is one of the best things you can do to help your changing body. As your posture changes and your weight shifts forward, strong glutes will help reduce instability and pain through your hips. Strong glutes will also assist in strengthening and gaining control of your pelvic floor. Barre incorporates many back-body strengthening exercises, perfect for all of you moms-to-be. Each plie, squat and pulse is helping you build the tone through your glutes and pelvic muscles, helping you stay strong all nine-months long. The second important muscle group to consider focusing on during pregnancy is your arms. The low weight, high repetition work we do in class is the perfect form of exercise to build and maintain lean biceps, triceps and shoulder muscles, which will come in handy once you’ve got a little one in tow.

Build Your Stamina - Those endless pulses and challenging cardio blasts are the perfect practice in building a strong mind-body connection. Working through the discomfort of that fourth set strengthens your ability to relax and breath in moments of difficulty. As your pregnancy progresses, there will be moments where this skill will absolutely come in handy and will help you overcome discomfort.

Safety is Key - Each barre class is structured to offer low impact options for each and every exercise performed. Thanks to this approach, all barre classes are safe to participate in throughout pregnancy once you’ve received the all clear from your doctor. Simply modifications will allow to you continue to participate in such a fun group class while supporting you and your changing body. While pregnant you may experience all, none or some of these symptoms/situations that we have discussed. Speaking to your healthcare practitioner is recommended if you are feeling discomfort of any kind. Everyone is different and each pregnancy is unique. It is important to exercise within your own limits, take breaks, stay hydrated and work at a slower pace during pregnancy. Now is the time to embrace change and experience a different type of self-care.

Mackenzie (photo above) – Barre Body Studio Instructor and Mom-to-be shares a few of her prenatal pointers.

I have been focusing primarily on exercises that only gently work my transverse abdominals and am now practically pain free! Avoiding plank was a big learning lesson for me. Instead I opt for side plank which helps to reduce any added abdominal pressure on the core muscles and therefore I avoid contributing to rectus diastasis.

The second interesting thing I learned was to avoid tucking my pelvis during 1st/2nd type exercises. I’ve learned that it increases the inter-abdominal pressure and neutral spine is a better choice during pregnancy. Putting this advice into practice has proven to be an effective modification for me during pregnancy.

(To hear more from Mackenzie, check out her interview with Oil & Grain. She talks about her prenatal barre experiences and dishes on her fav pregger wardrobe styles.)

Marlo (photo below) - Barre Body Studio creator, instructor and mother of three suggests the following:

One of the best pieces of advice that I received during my first pregnancy was to pull back, not push myself, and enjoy a gentle approach to fitness. The most important modification for me was to slow down during the cardio segment in classes. Remove any pressure to keep up with the group. Just making it to the studio and being involved in fitness is the utmost important at this stage – there are many years ahead to keep up with the pack. While doing cardio apply the talk test – if you cannot comfortably talk during cardio you need to pull back.

During my second & third trimester I focused on working slower and lower in all segments of class. Applying a “slower and lower” motto to my classes kept me feeling great throughout. The focus and concentration that is required in order to move with body control will help you immensely both inside and outside of the delivery room.

Marlo-preggo-1080x720 Barre Body Studio Instructor - Marlo Photo: Jenelle McKinney

Prenatal Barre Workshop Oct 24th from 12:30 to 2pm Barre Body Ramsay – Calgary

  • Spend 60mins learning modifications that can be applied to all BBS classes

  • Enjoy a fun 30-minute workout where you will apply all the essential exercises for a healthy pregnancy.

  • Q&A with Vanessa


9:25 pm

Why Mommy & Me Is The Place To Be


Mommy & Me classes have become permanent offerings at both the BBS studios over the last few months and both kinds of babes (actual babies and the hotties who birthed them) are big fans! It shouldn’t really come as any surprise since these classes offer a killer burn without the new mommy participants having to leave their cuties at home, but you don’t just have to take our word on the benefits of barre for new mothers, take the word of a couple of the medical professionals who take these classes at BBS themselves.

Elisabeth Catt is a Resident Physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology, currently on rotations in all four Calgary hospitals and she and her baby girl Liv are fixtures in the Mommy & Me classes. We also have a seasoned Obstetrician and Gynecologist in regularly with her little one, Molly, but she’s a bit shy and prefers to keep herself anonymous. We caught up with both ladies recently to get the medical point of view on the benefits of barre for all the mommies out there.

How long have you been attending classes at Barre Body Studio?
Elisabeth: Two years now. Molly’s Mom: Two months.

Why did you choose to start taking the Mommy & Me classes and how long after giving birth did you get started?  

E: I started the Mommy & Me session when Liv was a month old.  I knew I wanted to find ways to exercise with a baby and to meet other mamas and these classes seemed like the perfect way to do both!

MM: I choose the Mommy & Me class based on a recommendation from a friend who had been to barre classes prior to giving birth and absolutely loved the classes—she said they were a great workout.  I started the Mommy & me barre classes after my six week postpartum check with my obstetrician.

Given your profession, what do you think the benefits of barre are? Why did you choose this exercise program?  

E: I love barre because you get full body toning with the extra focus on abs and glutes, and you're working multiple muscle groups at one time so you get a good workout in an hour long class. In pregnancy you ideally want a workout where you're not at risk of falling and where cardio is a moderate intensity ( you can maintain a conversation through it).  Barre meets both of those requirements and there are always modifications available if sore joints are a problem!  I did barre while I was pregnant and it was inspiring to see instructors who were farther along in their pregnancy than I was and were able to both do the workout and to teach modifications for pregnancy.

MM: The benefits of barre classes are that they are a wonderful opportunity to bond with your baby in a social situation. Furthermore, they are an excellent source of exercise focusing on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and the transverse abdominis which both can be weakened by the growing fetus in pregnancy.  I chose this exercise program for both the social aspect and that it is lower impact by focuses on the core muscles to regain strength postpartum.

What other types of suitable post pregnancy exercise are out there to get your body back (i.e. what muscles should women focus on and why)?

E: Ultimately, you can usually do any kind of exercise you loved pre-pregnancy, as long as you listen to your body and ease your way back into it gradually! That being said, in the first 6 weeks you need to avoid heavy lifting and a lot of ab work if you deliver by cesarean and you should always check with your obstetrical care provider before getting started. Abs and pelvic floor are the muscle groups that go through the biggest stretch with pregnancy and need that extra work to get back in shape!

MM: All exercise (once given the ok by your obstetrical care provider) is extremely important in the postpartum period to assist with losing any excess weight gain that may have occurred in pregnancy.  It is extremely important for the health of subsequent pregnancies that women attempt to start the pregnancy with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI less than 25).  In women who have not been consistently exercising in pregnancy, starting slow and working up is very important for preventing injuries.  A combination of cardio, weight training, core stability, balance and stretching are part of a balanced exercise regime.

How is barre working for you? What changes have you noticed?  

E: Barre has been great for toning, especially abs and glutes!

MM: Barre has allowed me to regain some core strength, improve my posture, increase my strength, bond both with my daughter and make new friends. I’ve noticed my stamina and energy have increased since I started attending the class at the beginning of May.

Would you recommend the barre program to other new moms? Why or why not?

E: Absolutely I would recommend it!  As a new mom it was great to find something like this that both baby and I loved, to get a great workout and meet other mamas and babies all at the same time!

MM: I would most certainly recommend the barre program to other new moms for both the social aspect and the physical activity of the class.  As well, the instructors are very familiar with postpartum exercise and give modifications and cues to improve a mother’s performance in the class.

What do you love most about the Mommy and Me classes?  

E: The munchkins!! They all have such little personalities already and they are constantly learning new things from week to week.  It has been just hilarious and adorable getting to know their likes and dislikes (they really make it obvious!) and watching them learn new things—like the ability to roll off the mat.

MM: I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I really love both how social and friendly everyone is who attends the class but also how great the workouts have been. The fact you can bring your baby and the class is still challenging is a great way to get out of the house and workout as a new mother.

11:10 am

Barre Favs: 5 Minute Meals

It’s hot out and you’re sweaty from working your butt off (or up, as the case may be) at the B.A.R.R.E. A little rest, rehydration and you’ll be ready to get back after it the next day, but what to eat when you bust through the door starving and in need of nourishment after your leg-quaking workout? Well, look no further than the genius go-to meal ideas that your favourite barretenders swear by when in need of a meal on the fly.

Bon appetite and see you at the barre, beauties!



Barretenders’ Picks: 5 Minute Meals  

Sliced Avocado with a poached egg on whole wheat toast (with a little siracha). ~Mackenzie  

Hearts Choice Vegan Green Curry (find at the Blackfoot Farmer’s Market). Servings come frozen and are a perfect healthy, fast, satisfying meal. ~Adriana  

A straight up banana with peanut butter. ~Lindsay  

Fat-free Greek yogurt with cut up fruit, kashi cereal, chia seeds, hemp hearts and buckwheat. ~Ashley G

A toasted English muffin with peanut butter. ~Felicia  

Scrambled egg whites, a slice of whole wheat toast with avocado and cheese. ~Marlo  

Overnight oats are the perfect grab-and-go breakfast. ~Britt  

Taco Salad! Load up on whatever veggies you have (salad greens, corn, tomatoes, peppers, green onions, cabbage, carrots, radishes, mushrooms, anything!), add beans of some sort or leftover chicken, ground beef, etc., then top it off with cheese, sour cream or plain yogurt, salsa, slices of avocado, and some tortilla chips for crunch! ~Pauline  

Grilled chicken, avocado, tomatoes, peppers, goat or feta cheese with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. ~Amber  

A whole wheat pita with turkey breast, spinach, sprouts, tomato and a little bit of tzatziki. ~Jenna  

Cold Pizza (breakfast lunch or dinner)! ~Hillary  

Rolled oats with egg whites, blueberries and peanut butter. Add the boiling water slowly so the egg whites get mixed in properly and then add the blueberries and pb and mix. I like it super thick and gummy, but more water can be added to reach desired consistency. ~Katrina   

Vanilla greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter, some honey and cinnamon mixed into it and served with apple slices. ~Emma  

Greek salad with balsamic vinegar. ~Toni  

Tara’s Tuna Salad: 1 - Can flaked Tuna (or sub a previously cooked chilled salmon fillet) 1/2 - green pepper (diced) 1/2 - red pepper (diced) 1/4 cup diced cheese 2 - diced dill pickles handful of favorite small nuts (I prefer pumpkin or sunflower seeds)   Drain tuna and flake to separate (if salmon, flake salmon), add peppers and pickles and mix with dressing (I use Kraft Sun Dried Tomato), add cheese and nuts...and enjoy. Optional homemade dressing: olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Mrs. Dash seasoning (original), pepper and dry dill. All quantities to personal taste.

7:00 am

Form Friday – Water Ski

Water Ski is the queen-bee of multitasking! This tough position will trim and shape your inner and outer thighs, and create definition in your glutes, but it doesn’t stop there! Your upper body is being challenged to create that diagonal shape. Your body is supported entirely by your shoulder, arm and core strength – all of which are being sculpted throughout the series. Use these tips to get the most out of your Water Ski!

Start facing the barre with the hips touching the barre. Come into a rise with the heels squeezing together. With a strong grip, pull away from the barre with straight arms. Bend through the knees, squeeze the glutes and lift the hips up towards the barre. The body will create a 45-degree angle from the chest to knees. Lift your gaze and engage the core. Now lets move. As you lower through your plié keep the knees tracking over the toes and engage the inner thighs and quads. Lifting through plié, tuck the hips up to the barre by engaging the glutes and hamstrings.

Let’s review...


5:35 pm

Barre Favs: Post Barre Patios

Though we usually try to keep things light (and tight!), we at BBS take our patio visits quite seriously. Part (ok, most) of the reason we barre so hard is so we can chill equally as hard in the glorious Calgary heat afterwards without experiencing any guilt. So next time the sun is shining and you’ve put in a decent amount of sweat equity, check out one or tender's picks for the city’s best patios and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the odd BBS team member doing the same.


National. 17th and 8th Ave both have great outdoor spaces. -Mackenzie

Corbeaux Bakehouse -Adriana The rooftop of Starbucks on 4th Street & The Toad and Turtle -Tara

Vin Room on 4th Street -Stacie

Oj's -Ashley G.

Ox & Angela or The Living Room -Marlo

National on 8th's rooftop patio or Los Chilitos Taco & Tequila house (they have the best $5 Margaritas during happy hour) -Britt

Boxwood in Central Memorial Park of the Wildrose Brewery -Pauline

National on 17th & The Ship -Amber

National on 17th -Jenna

80th and Ivy's all you can eat brunch buffet! -Jenna

Wurst. All the cute little lights overhead do it for me. -Hillary

I can make a mean Arnold Palmer (sweet tea vodka, fresh squeezed lemon and lemonade) or a dark rum and diet coke with lime, or white wine on my own or a good friend’s deck. -Katrina

My deck! But for a public one I would have to say the Cactus Club -Emma

Los Chilitos on 17th -Toni  

See you at the barre (and then maybe an outdoor bar), beauties!


9:47 am

Fitness Rodeo Challenge – Barre Body Studio, Junction 9 and Studio Revolution


This Stampede, three amazingly positive, client focused boutique studios have come together to create one heck of a fitness party (AKA challenge)! Can you handle committing to nine heart pumping, tush toning, and/or zen balancing fitness classes over the course of 10 days? If your booty, liver, and lungs are all screaming YES then sign up today. Participants who complete the challenge will have their names entered to win a wellness package from one of the three studios. This is one challenge you won’t want to miss!!

Purchase your $99 challenge pass at Barre Body Studio, Junction 9 or Studio Revolution by July 2nd to secure your spot. Purchases can also be made on-line through your existing Mindbody account. Challenge runs from July 3rd to July 12th, 2015. Absolutely, no refunds or exchanges after July 3rd, 2015.




2:05 pm

Surf | Stretch | Burn – Stampede Kick off!


BBS has teamed up with Junction 9, Studio Revolution, Tru Buch Kombucha and (the oh so yummy) Fiasco Gelato to ring in Stampede 2015.

Join us on Junction 9’s rooftop patio for a 90 minute class which brings you the best of THREE amazing workouts rolled into one fabulous party!

Start with a BBS Barre burn, hit the waves on your Surf Set board, and stretch it all out with a Yoga flow! Finish the night watching the fireworks while sipping on a Tru Buch Kombucha Float, featuring a delicious scoop of Fiasco Gelato.

This is going to be on heck of a Stampede kick-off* that you won’t want to miss! Space is limited to 24 participants.


See you there!


*please note that the Stampede kick-off party is separate from the Fitness Rodeo Challenge. Everyone is welcome whether you are joining the Fitness Rodeo challenge or not.

5:26 pm

Barre Star Hall of Fame: Courtney Whitney

It’s been a year since 26-year-old Courtney Whitney hit the barre for the first time and she’s still feeling the burn and loving every minute of it. This Cochrane, Alberta native signed up for the 25 in 35 Challenge this past January in hopes of kick-starting her practice from a few days a week to a full on daily barre addiction and she did just that! “Not only did the challenge get me into more classes each week, but it got me addicted to the Master Classes!” Courtney explains of her challenge outcome. So what’s next for this certified barre addict now that she whooped the challenge’s behind? “Now I’m looking to improve my cardio (with severe asthma, it is a life-long challenge) and flatten my tummy,” she explains. “My next step will be adding in 1/week yoga to my current barre / personal training regime combo.” Sounds like a well constructed plan to us, girl! Can’t wait to see the results continue to roll in.

Ladies and gentleman, meet Courtney:


What was your original motivation for signing up for the challenge?

My motivation behind the challenge was to push myself beyond just coming to class a couple times a week. I've been coming to barre for almost a year and I just had to see if I could really come five times a week for five weeks! The other motivation, of course, was to just say that I did it. I think it was the first time I've ever accomplished a New Year's resolution. My other motivation was all of my friends and family cheering me on while I was completing it. I loved the texts, "So have you been to barre yet today?"

What was the hardest part of this challenge?

The hardest part of this challenge was balancing my work, school and work out schedule every week. I couldn't follow a consistent day and class time every week so I got to try a variety of class times and instructors. Turns out this was actually for the best because I met so many great gals who all have different styles and it really spiced up my routine and made it easier to get through the whole five weeks.

Tell us about those free weights that everyone loves to hate?

Well, my original weight goal was to consistently use 3lbs weights by the end of the challenge. It took me about the weeks, but now I am a consistent 3lbs girl (and I can do tricep dips on the floor)! When Marlo made us take 5lbs weights at the Master Class about halfway through the challenge, I thought I was going to die, but it was a really great to see that I could push my body for one class that hard. I think I'm probably due for another 5lbs challenge!

What are your favourite results from taking part in a BBS challenge?

My favorite result has been just feeling physically great, mentally alert and being able to do normal activities again. Having severe asthma, it's not easy doing cardio workouts and it takes a long time for my lungs to get used to regular physical activity. This ski season, I actually outlasted my athletic friends on the hill, though! I also love how great my butt looks! I know, super cheesy, but it really does look great!

Next goal: working on my cardio blasts!

10:08 pm

Two Really Is Better Than One


You’ve heard the rumours and yes, barre beauties, they are true! This June BBS will be opening our second studio at 4251 Bow Trail S.W. So we can have twice the fun and tone twice as many sets of buns this summer!

And since we’re so excited about this next step for the BBS crew that we are rolling out pre-sale deals like never before.

From May 1st to June 1st, brand new and regular clients alike can score some major value on their pulse-pulse-plie fix.

New clients will do well to add an Intro Pass to their shopping cart. $65 for 40 days unlimited classes—10 extra days for the same low price.

And for our regular barre beauties, all 10 Class Card 10% off, 20 Class Card 15% off and the Auto Pay membership (unlimited monthly classes) are just $130 a month!

Obviously plenty of questions will spring to mind about this exciting new expansion, so we've put together a few insights to help answer them all as soon as possible.

  •  Is there parking? Yes, the building has approximately 20 stalls out front of the studio and the street parking around the studio is all 2 hour free parking.

  •  Are my class card/monthly membership/single drop in classes transferrable? Yes, all passes are transferrable between both locations HOWEVER passes bought during the PRE-SALE will only be valid (at both locations) upon opening of Bow Trail (early June).

  •  Are socks required at the new studio? Yes, the same dress code is in effect. We recommend yoga-ish wear (capris, tights and a tank with grip socks). Socks are mandatory and can be purchased in studio or at places like Chapters, London Drugs etc.

  •  What amenities does the Bow Trail location have? The new location will be stocked with all of the same great amenities that you have come to love at the Ramsay studio aka. showers, towels, lockers, mats, filtered water, blow dryers, parking, with boutique items available for purchase like Cru Juice, Fuel Barres, bottled water, and fitness apparel items. Sorry, no child care.

  •  What classes are suitable for beginners? All classes are a blend of yoga, pilates, and dance. Check out our website for class descriptions here. BBS classes are low-impact and suitable for all ages and fitness levels. (Must be 12 and older to attend)

  •  When can I start to use my Pre-sale passes and how long are they valid for after purchase? Pre-sale passes are available for discounted pricing up to June 1st. These passes are valid at both Ramsay and Bow Trail but will not activate until BBS Bow Trail has opened (early June – check back for a confirmed date or join our mailing list)

  • Will my favourite instructors be teaching at both studios? Yes, you will find that most instructors will be teaching at both locations. Check the schedule to find dates and times and make a date with your favourite barre tender.

We're bursting with excitement and we hope you are too, beauties. We'll see you very soon at our brand new barre! xxo, The BBS Crew

6:32 pm

Barre Star Hall of Fame: Stephanie Smith

With more than 450 classes under her belt (she hit that milestone last month), it’s fairly safe to say that Stephanie Smith is a legitimate barre addict. Especially true when it comes to BBS’s commitment-testing challenges. Partaking in every challenge since the studio opened more than two years ago, this super-fit 40-year-old has demonstrated her commitment to the barre burn many times over.  Here’s what this BBS Hall of Famer has to say about her challenging experiences to date:


“Motivation can be so different for everyone. I have always been an active person, but I am not the type of individual who can self-motivate when it comes to exercise. I’ve had gym memberships in the past, but have always struggled with what to do once I get there. I would stand around, look at the machines, try a couple out. Not really push myself because I didn’t understand how each machine was supposed to work or train my body; and wished there was someone there to just tell me what to do. Trainer led, group exercise has always been the most successful for me. The combination of weight training, ballet, yoga, great tunes and high energy leadership makes Barre a win-win-win-win-win for me!

Therefore, the barre tenders, the other participants and my desire to maintain a healthy relationship with exercise was my motivation to participate in this past winter’s 20 in 30 Challenge (and all the ones before it!). The hardest part of course was squeezing in all the classes, but as with anything, if you don’t love it and if it’s not convenient, you won’t do it. The class schedule at Barre Body Studio is diverse enough throughout the day and weekend to suit my needs; it’s almost easier to go to class then not to (and I love it!).

And if there is a sticker, or a wall chart involved look out! There is nothing more motivating than group commitment and some healthy competition—even if your biggest opponent is yourself (or the sofa, an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and a bag of peanut M&M’s, as the case may be). I’ve enjoyed the challenges very much, and the results were more than just my “obviously” tighter tushy. It was a great way to refocus and renew the commitment I made to myself and my fitness.I can’t wait for the next one!”